The weather in the PNW this past winter and early spring has been poor (if we had been here for more than the one month since leaving AZ we’d probably use more colorful language). When a weather forecast showed up suggesting several days in a row of dry and not too windy days, we decided to high tail it out of town. At a civilized time of 0750 on Thursday, April 28 (the same departure day as last year), we cast off for out 2017 cruising season.
Our original thought was to leisurely work our way through the Strait of Georgia. We thought perhaps we’d visit Princess Louisa Inlet an offshoot of Jervis Inlet about 45 miles up the BC mainland coast from Vancouver. When, on our third night out, we were moored at the Thetis Island Marina we started to look at the weather and lay out the schedule. The extended weather forecast showed light winds along Johnstone Strait 3 and 4 days out. We’ve learned from previous trips that in early season, good traveling conditions are precious and ought not passed up casually.
After some quick discussion we pushed Princess Louisa to a future year and decided start moving. From Thetis Island we headed first to False Bay on Lasqueti Island in the Strait of Georgia than to Gowland Harbour on Quadra Island across from Campbell River. Because of the time of month, the slack before the ebb at Seymour Narrows wasn’t until about noon. Despite the leisurely start, we made Port Harvey on Cracroft Island. The next days travel brought us to Port McNeill our first (and only) BC provisioning stop.
We had a weather day in Port McNeill but then got a forecast we thought we could work with. An early start got us into Queen Charlotte Straits, then around Cape Caution. The seas were about what we expected (4-5 foot swells) but a long period so our paravane stabilizers worked very well. After 14 hours and 95 miles we called it quits for the day at Kisameet Bay.
The next day we fell in with Solstice, a fishing troller, traveling about the same speed as us. He was transmitting an AIS signal (as do we), so even though we were separated by several miles at time and barely visible, it felt like we were buddy boating. As we slogged up Graham Reach and headed to Khutze Inlet for the night (12 hours and 85 miles), Solstice pulled in shortly after us and dropped anchor a couple hundred yards away. We chatted on the radio later and learned that they were a semi-retired couple (Dan and Marsha) from Gig Harbor. The next morning we left about ten minutes after them and followed them up Grenville Channel and into Kelp Passage Cove (12 hours and 89 miles).
During this time the weather has been cool and rainy but the winds not too bad. They occasionally would bump up to the upper teens but would usually be from behind and not a problem. Both Solstice and ourselves are seeing good conditions developing for crossing Dixon Entrance and are motivated to push the mileage to make sure we hit it.
From Kelp Passage, we again leave shortly before dawn right behind Solstice and follow them across Dixon Entrance in some of the best conditions we’ve ever had. At this point we parted ways as Solstice continued to Ketchikan (for another 95 mile day) and we pull up short at Foggy Bay (a leisurely 9 hour 64 mile day). Dan & Marsha were needing to get to Petersburg where they’d leave the boat while they fly home. We agreed to look for each other on AIS later in the season and hopefully actually meet in person.
An early departure from Foggy Bay gets us to Ketchikan a little before 10 AM on Wednesday, May 10. Because we’ve arrived in Alaska early there is enough time to do a swing through Behm Canal and still go to Petersburg for a few days of the Little Norway Festival.